If I can offer any comfort, this seems to be a theme this year among many schools. Personally, I have definitely contacted more schools this year about application decisions than ever before. The biggest reason I've heard is that, nationally, many schools are seeing a huge increase in highly qualified early decision applications. Georgia Tech specifically mentioned their application pool increased 5x this year for some reason, lowering their admit rate from 50% to 30% and echoed that it seemed to be a trend among many schools this year. So it's not necessarily that our students weren't qualified, but that they simply found themselves in an immensely bigger pond than anyone could have ever anticipated. And the people I have spoken to aren't really sure what the reason is for the increase, or whether or not the trend will continue.
Nonetheless, these results have caused many teachers and all of our counselors to seriously re-evaluate our approach to college counseling. One trend that has seemed to slowly arise is that students are being selected more and more by subjective traits, like personality, fit, drive, and how "compelling" their application is.In future blogs, I hope to begin to share some of that information, but to keep this brief for now, I'll just say that we as a school are exploring new ways to not only encourage students to display these traits, but come up with ways for us counselors and teachers to showcase these traits in our students.
And not to keep pushing Georgia Tech, but their Admissions director keeps a fantastic blog that really sheds a lot of light on the whole process. I found this post particularly interesting, especially the part about being competitive vs being compelling. I know that probably offers little help or comfort now, but hopefully offers some of the answers you're looking for:
So what can be done now?
For starters, it probably wouldn't hurt for any student to call and/or re-apply. Colleges DO take that kind of thing into consideration. Basically, as I understand it, the thought is that if a student cares enough to call and re-apply, they are probably likely to possess the drive needed to be successful and that plays into their considerations for admission.
My advice is that the STUDENT themselves call, as it displays the most maturity and makes the biggest statement. A parent may also call if the student is adamant and unwilling, but colleges have told me it makes a bigger statement when they hear from the student themselves.
I know that students may feel shy and even a bit helpless. But all that any student would have to do is ask #1, if they can learn about the weaknesses in their application and #2, ask about the re-application/reconsideration process. (But yes, many colleges do share what was missing). It probably also wouldn't hurt to mention a family connection if one exists because that sometimes helps too.
And I understand concerns about students getting one's hopes up again only to be disappointed. Only you as a family can decide if calling is worth the emotional risk. But from my perspective, making contact will absolutely NOT hurt a student's chances of getting in, and can only help.
Coming soon, this blog hopes to share more of the insight gathered from colleges, dispel myths, bring light to common problems, and inspire all students to be that compelling applicant that colleges are looking for.